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Hebrews Chapter Eight


Hebrews 8

Chapter 8 in this respect is simple and clear; the last verses only give room for a few remarks.

The sum of the doctrine we have been considering is, that we have a High Priest who is seated on the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the heavenly sanctuary which is not made with hands. As such, He must have an offering to present there. Jesus, were He on earth, would not be a Priest; there were priests on earth according to the law, in which all things were but figures of the heavenly things; as Moses was told to make all according to the pattern that was shewn him in the mount. But the ministry of Jesus is more excellent, because He is the Mediator of a better covenant, spoken of in Jeremiah 31, which is here quoted; a clear and simple proof that the first covenant was not to continue.

We again find here that particular development of the truth which was called for by the character of the persons to whom this letter was addressed.

The first covenant was made with Israel; the second must be so likewise, according to the prophecy of Jeremiah. The epistle however in this passage only makes use of the fact that there was to be a second covenant, in order to demonstrate that the first was to last no longer. It had grown old, and was to vanish away. He recites the terms of the new covenant. We shall find that he makes use of it afterwards. In that which follows, he contrasts the services that belonged to the first with the perfect work on which Christianity is founded. Thus the extent and the value of the work of Christ are introduced.

Although there is no difficulty here, it is important to have light with regard to these two covenants, because some have very vague ideas on this point, and many souls, putting themselves under covenants, that is, in relationship with God under conditions in which He has not placed them-lose their simplicity, and do not hold fast grace and the fullness of the work of Christ, and the position He has acquired for them in heaven.

A covenant is a principle of relationship with God on the earth-conditions established by God under which man is to live with Him. The word may perhaps be used figuratively, or by accommodation. It is applied to details of the relationship of God with Israel, and so to Abraham (Gen.15), and like cases; but, strictly speaking, there are but two covenants, in which God has dealt with man on earth, or will-the old and the new. The old was established at Sinai. The new covenant is made also with the two houses of Israel. [1]

The gospel is not a covenant, but the revelation of the salvation of God. It proclaims the, great salvation of God. We enjoy indeed all the essential privileges of the new covenant, its foundation being laid on God's part in the blood of Christ, but we do so in spirit, not according to the letter.

The new covenant will be established formally with Israel in the millennium. Meanwhile the old covenant is judged by the fact that there is a new one.


[1] We have also, at the end of the epistle, the expression " the blood of the everlasting covenant." " Covenant" he uses I doubt not (as the word "law" also is used), because it was commonly employed as the condition of relationship with God, and " eternal " is characteristic of the Hebrews. There have been, and will be, covenants in time and for the earth; but we have eternal conditions of relationship with God, of which the blood of Christ is the expression and security, founded in everlasting grace, and righteousness as well as grace, by that precious blood, in which all the character and all the purpose of God has been made good and glorified, as well as our sins been put away.

── John DarbySynopsis of Hebrews


Hebrews 8

Chapter Contents

The excellence of Christ's priesthood above that of Aaron is shown. (1-6) The great excellence of the new covenant above the former. (7-13)

Commentary on Hebrews 8:1-6

(Read Hebrews 8:1-6)

The substance, or summary, of what had been declared was, that Christians had such a High Priest as they needed. He took upon himself human nature, appeared on earth, and there gave himself as a sacrifice to God for the sins of his people. We must not dare to approach God, or to present any thing to him, but in and through Christ, depending upon his merits and mediation; for we are accepted only in the Beloved. In all obedience and worship, we should keep close to God's word, which is the only and perfect standard. Christ is the substance and end of the law of righteousness. But the covenant here referred to, was that made with Israel as a nation, securing temporal benefits to them. The promises of all spiritual blessings, and of eternal life, revealed in the gospel, and made sure through Christ, are of infinitely greater value. Let us bless God that we have a High Priest that suits our helpless condition.

Commentary on Hebrews 8:7-13

(Read Hebrews 8:7-13)

The superior excellence of the priesthood of Christ, above that of Aaron, is shown from that covenant of grace, of which Christ was Mediator. The law not only made all subject to it, liable to be condemned for the guilt of sin, but also was unable to remove that guilt, and clear the conscience from the sense and terror of it. Whereas, by the blood of Christ, a full remission of sins was provided, so that God would remember them no more. God once wrote his laws to his people, now he will write his laws in them; he will give them understanding to know and to believe his laws; he will give them memories to retain them; he will give them hearts to love them, courage to profess them, and power to put them in practice. This is the foundation of the covenant; and when this is laid, duty will be done wisely, sincerely, readily, easily, resolutely, constantly, and with comfort. A plentiful outpouring of the Spirit of God will make the ministration of the gospel so effectual, that there shall be a mighty increase and spreading of Christian knowledge in persons of all sorts. Oh that this promise might be fulfilled in our days, that the hand of God may be with his ministers so that great numbers may believe, and be turned to the Lord! The pardon of sin will always be found to accompany the true knowledge of God. Notice the freeness of this pardon; its fulness; its fixedness. This pardoning mercy is connected with all other spiritual mercies: unpardoned sin hinders mercy, and pulls down judgments; but the pardon of sin prevents judgment, and opens a wide door to all spiritual blessings. Let us search whether we are taught by the Holy Spirit to know Christ, so as uprightly to love, fear, trust, and obey him. All worldly vanities, outward privileges, or mere notions of religion, will soon vanish away, and leave those who trust in them miserable for ever.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Hebrews


Hebrews 8

Verse 1

[1] Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;

We have such an high priest — Having finished his description of the type in Melchisedec, the apostle begins to treat directly of the excellency of Christ's priesthood, beyond the Levitical.

Who is set down — Having finished his oblation.

At the right hand of the Majesty — Of God.

Verse 2

[2] A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.

A minister — Who represents his own sacrifice, as the high priest did the blood of those sacrifices once a year.

Of the sanctuary — Heaven, typified by the holy of holies.

And of the true tabernacle — Perhaps his human nature, of which the old tabernacle was a type.

Which the Lord hath fixed — Forever.

Not man — As Moses fixed the tabernacle.

Verse 4

[4] For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:

But if he were on earth — If his priesthood terminated here.

He could not be a priest — At all, consistently with the Jewish institutions.

There being other priests — To whom alone this office is allotted.

Verse 5

[5] Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.

Who serve — The temple, which was not yet destroyed.

After the pattern and shadow of heavenly things — Of spiritual, evangelical worship, and of everlasting glory.

The pattern — Somewhat like the strokes pencilled out upon a piece of fine linen, which exhibit the figures of leaves and flowers, but have not yet received their splendid colours and curious shades.

And shadow — Or shadowy representation, which gives you some dim and imperfect idea of the body, but not the fine features, not the distinguishing air; none of those living graces which adorn the real person. Yet both the pattern and shadow lead our minds to something nobler than themselves: the pattern, to that holiness and glory which complete it; the shadow, to that which occasions it. Exodus 25:40.

Verse 6

[6] But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

And now he hath obtained a more excellent ministry — His priesthood as much excels theirs, as the promises of the gospel (whereof he is a surety) excels those of the law. These better promises are specified, Hebrews 8:10,11: those in the law were mostly temporal promises.

Verse 7

[7] For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.

For if the first had been faultless — If that dispensation had answered all God's designs and man's wants, if it had not been weak and unprofitable unable to make anything perfect, no place would have been for a second.

Verse 8

[8] For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

But there is; for finding fault with them - Who were under the old covenant he saith, I make a new covenant with the house of Israel - With all the Israel of God, in all ages and nations. It is new in many respects, though not as to the substance of it: 1. Being ratified by the death of Christ. 2. Freed from those burdensome rites and ceremonies. 3. Containing a more full and clear account of spiritual religion. 4. Attended with larger influences of the Spirit 5. Extended to all men. And, 6. Never to be abolished. Jeremiah 31:31, etc.

Verse 9

[9] Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

When I took them by the hand — With the care and tenderness of a parent. And just while this was fresh in their memory, they obeyed; but presently after they shook off the yoke.

They continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not — So that covenant was soon broken in pieces.

Verse 10

[10] For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

This is the covenant I will make after those days — After the Mosaic dispensation is abolished.

I will put my laws in their minds — I will open their eyes, and enlighten their understanding, to see the true, full, spiritual meaning thereof.

And write them on their hearts — So that they shall inwardly experience whatever I have commanded.

And I will be to them a God — Their all-sufficient portion, and exceeding great reward.

And they shall be to me a people — My treasure, my beloved, loving, and obedient children.

Verse 11

[11] And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

And they who are under this covenant (though in other respects they will have need to teach each other to their lives' end, yet) shall not need to teach every one his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for they shall all know me - All real Christians.

From the least to the greatest — In this order the saving knowledge of God ever did and ever will proceed; not first to the greatest, and then to the least. But "the Lord shall save the tents," the poorest, "of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David," the royal seed, "and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem," the nobles and the rich citizens, "do not magnify themselves," Zechariah 12:7.

Verse 12

[12] For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

For I will justify them, which is the root of all true knowledge of God. This, therefore, is God's method. First, a sinner is pardoned: then he knows God, as gracious and merciful then God's laws are written on his heart: he is God's, and God is his.

Verse 13

[13] In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

In saying, A new covenant, he hath antiquated the first — Hath shown that it is disannulled, and out of date.

Now that which is antiquated is ready to vanish away — As it did quickly after, when the temple was destroyed.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Hebrews


Chapter 8. The Better New Covenant

Put in Their Minds
Write on Their Hearts

I. Serve in the True Tabernacle

  1. Set up the Tabernacle
  2. Sit in Heaven
  3. Pattern Shown on the Mountain

II. Mediator of a Better Covenant

  1. A Superior Ministry
  2. Wrong with the Old Testament
  3. Promise of a New covenant

III. Promise to Be with Men

  1. Know the Lord Better
  2. The Power of Removing Sins
  3. Substitute the Old by the New

── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament

Our Glorious High Priest (8:1-6)
1. With the beginning of chapter eight, we come to the close of the 
  first major section of "The Epistle To The Hebrews"...
   a. In which the key thought is "The Superiority of Christ"
   b. In which Jesus is shown to be superior to:
      1) To the prophets - He 1:1-3
      2) To angels - He 1:4-2:18
      3) To Moses - He 3:1-5
      4) To Aaron and his Levitical priesthood - He 5:1-10; 7:1-28
2. The next major section really begins in earnest with verse 7...
   a. In which the key thought will be "The Superiority of the New 
   b. In which this covenant is shown to be based upon:
      1) Better promises - He 8:7-13
      2) A better sanctuary - He 9:1-28
      3) A better sacrifice - He 10:1-18
3. In He 8:1-6, we find a transition...
   a. In which the main point of the first section is summarized
   b. In which the main points of the next section are introduced
   -- Indeed, these six verses truly summarize what the author seeks to
      establish in the first ten chapters of this epistle!
4. It can all be summarized in these words:  "We have such a High 
   a. In Jesus, we have a High Priest
   b. Not just any High Priest, but "such" a High Priest; i.e., a 
      glorious High Priest!
[In what ways is Jesus "Our Glorious High Priest"?  First, He is...]
      1. A Jewish circumlocution meaning "God" (Believers' Study Bible)
      2. I.e., a roundabout way of referring to God - cf. He 1:3
      1. David prophesied that the Messiah would sit at God's right 
         hand - Psa 110:1
      2. Jesus said that He would sit at the right hand of God - Mk 14:
      3. When He ascended to heaven, He then sat down at God's right 
         hand - Mk 16:19; He 12:2
      4. At God's right hand, He poured forth the Holy Spirit - Ac 2:33
      5. Peter preached Jesus as being exalted to be at God's right 
         hand as our Prince and Savior - Ac 5:30-31
      6. Paul taught that Jesus is at God's right hand, interceding for
         us - Ro 8:34
      7. He is at God's right hand, "waiting till His enemies are made
         His footstool" - He 10:12-13
      8. Yet while He sits and waits, He rules! - Psa 110:1-2,5; cf.
         1 Co 15:24-26
      9. For at God's right hand, He is above all other authority 
         - Ep 1:20-22; 1 Pe 3:22
      -- In one place, we read of Jesus "standing at the right hand of
         God" (Ac 7:55-56); was Jesus showing His respect for Stephen,
         the first Christian martyr?
[Exalted to such a place of honor and authority, we truly have a 
"glorious" High Priest, one who is "the ruler over the kings of the 
earth" (Re 1:5)! As we look at the next verse in our text, we see
that He is also...]
      1. We are now introduced to a contrast between two "tabernacles"
         a. There had been the earthly sanctuary or tabernacle
            1) As ordained under the first covenant (i.e., the Law) 
               - cf. He 9:1ff
            2) It was built by man
         b. But now we read of one "which the Lord erected"; i.e., a
            heavenly tabernacle
      2. The heavenly tabernacle is none other than heaven itself! 
         - cf. He 9:11-12; 23-24
      1. As a High Priest, it is necessary for Him to have something to
         offer - He 8:3
         a. Every high priest is appointed for this purpose - He 5:1
         b. What Jesus has to offer is not mention here, but will be
            later - cf. He 9:12
      2. This service He renders in heaven, not on the earth - He 8:4
         a. If He were on earth, He couldn't be a priest!
         b. For the Law required priests from the tribe of Levi, and 
            Jesus was from Judah
      3. As for priests on the earth...
         a. They serve only the copy and shadow of the heavenly things 
            - He 8:5
         b. For Moses had been told by God to build the earthly 
            tabernacle according to pattern shown to him on the 
            mountain - cf. Exo 25:40
[As "Our Glorious High Priest", then, Jesus renders service in the 
true tabernacle, which is heaven itself.  This thought will be expanded
upon in chapters nine and ten.  But consider also how He is...]
      1. In contrast with the ministry of the Levitical priests
      2. Their ministry was simply a shadow and copy of His ministry 
         - cf. Co 2:16-17
      1. The word "mediator"...
         a. The Greek is "mesites" {mes-ee'-tace}
         b. It means "one who intervenes between two, either in order
            to make or restore peace and friendship, or form a compact,
            or for ratifying a covenant"
      2. By His death on the cross, Jesus has become the Mediator of 
         the new covenant  - cf. He 9:15; 12:24
      3. This new covenant is here referred to as "a better covenant"
         a. Better than what?  Better than the "first covenant" - cf. 
            He 8:7
         b. I.e., what had been established through Moses
      1. What makes the new covenant better than the old are its 
      2. Some of those promises are explained later - cf. He 8:10-12
      3. But Peter describes the promises we receive as "exceedingly
         great and precious promises" - cf. 2 Pe 1:3-4
1. With this transition passage, then, we are introduced to things that
   will be expounded upon as we proceed through the epistle...
   a. The better covenant we have in Christ, based upon its better 
   b. The better ministry Christ renders as our High Priest in heaven,
      seated at God's right hand
2. When such things are properly understood, we can see how Jesus is 
   truly "Our Glorious High Priest"!
   a. One who stands ready to minister in our behalf
   b. He is "able to save to the uttermost those who come to God 
      through Him" - He 7:25
   c. He is "able to aid those who are tempted" - He 2:18
Have you accepted Jesus as your High Priest by obeying His gospel?  He
is truly...
   "...the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him." (He 5:9)
For those who have not obeyed His gospel, we find this awesome warning:
   "...and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord
   Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming
   fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those
   be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the
   Lord and from the glory of His power..." (2 Th 1:7-9)
Please render obedience to the gospel today if you have not yet done 
so! - cf. Ac 2:36-39


The Promises Of God's New Covenant (8:7-13)
1. Up to this point, the focus of "The Epistle To The Hebrews" has 
   been on Christ...
   a. His superiority to prophets, angels, Moses
   b. The superiority of His priesthood to the Levitical priesthood
2. With the transition in He 8:1-6, the focus shifts to the New 
   a. A new covenant in which Jesus has already been described as:
      1) The "surety" (guarantor) - He 7:22
      2) The "Mediator" (one who intervenes) - He 8:6
   b. In both passages, this covenant was described as a "better" 
3. Better than what?  Better in what way?  In Hebrews 8, we learn the 
   a. Better than the "first covenant" - cf. He 8:7
   b. Better because of the "promises" contained in it - cf. He 8:6
[In this study, "The Promises Of God's New Covenant", we shall examine
our text (He 8:7-13) to ascertain how the New Covenant is better, 
especially with regard to its promises.
Let's begin by noticing...]
      1. Otherwise, there would have been no need for a second covenant
      2. We have already seen concerning the first covenant that...
         a. The Levitical priesthood could not bring perfection - He 7:
         b. The Law made nothing perfect, and was therefore annulled 
            due to its weakness and unprofitableness - He 7:18-19
      3. This inadequacy has special reference to the sacrifices of the
         first covenant...
         a. They could not make those who approach perfect - He 10:1-3
         b. The blood of animals offered by the priests could not take
            away sins - He 10:4,11
      1. God found fault because they did not continue in His covenant 
         - cf. Jer 11:7-10
      2. For this reason He disregarded them, allowing them to be taken
         away by their enemies - cf. Jer 11:11-14
      -- Even so, He did not leave them without some hope, for through
         the prophet Jeremiah He made a promise...
      1. Promised in Jer 31:31-34
      2. In which God would make a "new covenant" with Israel and Judah
      2. A covenant different than the one made at Mt. Sinai (how, we
         shall see in a moment)
      1. By even calling the promised covenant "new", God made the
         first covenant obsolete
         a. The old covenant actually continued on for about 500 years
            after Jeremiah
         b. But with the promise of the new, attention would be taken
            away from the old covenant and directed toward the new one
            that was coming!
      2. Its obsolescence was especially seen in the days of the Hebrew
         a. It was "becoming obsolete and growing old"
            1) The death of Jesus rendered the sacrifices of the first
               covenant unnecessary
            2) Before long, the temple itself would be destroyed, and
               along with it, the last vestiges of the Levitical 
         b. Truly, it was "ready to vanish away"
[So God promised a "new covenant" to replace the "old covenant"; and 
Jesus is the "Mediator" of this covenant, which is "a better covenant".
Better in what way?
Better because it "was established on better promises".  Let's now 
consider some of...]
      1. "I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their 
      2. The first covenant had its laws written on tablets of stone; 
         the new covenant is one that requires God's laws be written in
         our hearts
      3. It is not enough to have God's Word in our hands, on our 
         coffee tables, etc.
         a. We must plant God's Word into our hearts - cf. Ja 1:21
         b. For only then can we truly be born again by the 
            incorruptible seed, the word of God - 1 Pe 1:22-23
      -- Are you living up to intent of the New Covenant, or are you
         little different than those under the first covenant, who had
         the Word, but not on their hearts?
      1. "I will be their God, and they shall be My people"
      2. The actual terms of this promise is really nothing new - cf. 
         Exo 6:7; Lev 26:12
      3. But in each successive "age", its promise is filled with fresh
         meaning; for example...
         a. In "this age", we enjoy a closer relationship with God 
            - cf. 2 Co 6:16-18; 1 Pe 2:9-10
         b. But even more so, in the "age to come", which is in 
            eternity - cf. Re 21:1-7
      -- Are you utilizing the blessings whereby you can have a closer
         relationship with God?
      1. "None of them shall teach...saying, 'Know the Lord', for all
         shall know Me..."
      2. The New Covenant will be with people who have already come to
         know the Lord
         a. Unlike the first covenant, in which people entered it at 
            birth; as they grew up, they needed to be taught about the 
         b. In the new covenant, one must come to know the Lord before
            they can enter the covenant
      3. So it is that one must believe in Jesus before they can enter
         into a covenant relationship with their Lord through baptism 
         - cf. Ac 8:36-38
      -- Does not this feature of the New Covenant preclude the 
         practice of infant baptism?
      1. "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their
         sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more"
      2. Here is the ultimate basis of the blessing previously 
         described; by virtue of the forgiveness of sins can we truly 
         be God's people, and He our God!
      3. Thus the New Covenant provides what the first covenant could 
         not:  true forgiveness of sins! - cf. He 10:1-4,11
1. Such are "The Promises Of God's New Covenant"...
   a. As foretold through the prophet Jeremiah
   b. Now fulfilled through the coming of Jesus and His death on the 
   -- By virtue of "better promises", Christ is truly the Mediator of a
      "better covenant"!
3. But there is more to be said about why the New Covenant is a better
   a. It also has a better sanctuary
   b. It also has a better sacrifice
   -- But consideration of these things will be saved for later
At this point it might be appropriate to ask:
   Have you truly entered into a covenant relationship with the Lord?
The entrance terms of this New Covenant are simple:  They involve faith
in Christ and a confession of that faith (Ro 10:9,10), along with 
repentance of sins and baptism into Christ (Ac 2:36-39). 
The promised blessings of the New Covenant await any and all who are 
willing to so respond to the gospel of Christ!


--《Executable Outlines


The better new covenant

Put in their minds

Write on their hearts


I.  Serve in the true tabernacle

1.    Set up the tabernacle

2.    Sit in heaven

3.    Pattern shown on the mountain

II.Mediator of a better covenant

1.    A superior ministry

2.    Wrong with the Old Testament

3.    Promise of a new covenant

III.       Promise to be with men

1.    Know the Lord better

2.    The power of removing sins

3.    Substitute the old by the new

-- Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament